Renew those resolutions; switch to green energy

Posted on January 22, 2008. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Uncategorized, Wind |

From a story by Sandra Kallio in the Wisconsin State Journal:

New Year ‘s resolutions sometimes fade faster than a champagne hangover.

We vowed to learn Spanish…but never got past “Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo.”

We meant to spend less…but those post-holiday sales were such good deals.

We started to save fruit and veggie scraps for composting…but they stunk up the kitchen.

We, the irresolute, are not alone. FranklinCovey ‘s third annual New Year ‘s Resolutions Survey found that 35 percent of respondents break their resolutions by the end of January and only 23 percent never break them.

The stats are against us, but Madison-area experts are with us, rooting us on here with baby steps to change our lives whether we ‘ve resolved to focus on the environment, education or our physical or financial health. Here we ‘re offering suggestions for those who vowed to go green, act like a grown-up financially, learn something new, and stick to those diet and fitness goals. . . .

Switch to green energy. Starting in January, MGE tripled the amount of renewable power (electricity generated through wind power) available to customers for just an extra penny per kilowatt hour, which will cost the average electric customer $6 extra per month; to sign up, go to MGE and click on “Our Environment.”

Tip: You might be able to make up for that cost by switching out light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, which are on sale through March at participating stores as supplies last.

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s rooftop wind turbines

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized, Wind |

Rooftop wind
Photos: Left, steel beams are lifted by crane to the roof of the St. Louis County Government Services Center on Thursday morning, Jan. 17. Rgiht: Wind turbines by AeroVironment Inc. on the Staples Fulfillment Center in Ontario, CA

From an article by Richard Thomas posted on Business North.com:

AeroVironment, based in Monrovia, CA, will provide the micro turbines. It is one of a handful of companies nationwide that build small rooftop windmills for urban and suburban settings.The St. Louis County pilot project uses six turbines, each six feet in diameter and producing an output of one thousand watts. They will perch on the east edge of the rooftop to catch wind off Lake Superior. Being placed at the parapet enables the turbines to take advantage of the “chimney effect” of wind hitting the side of the building and traveling upwards at increased speed.Construction began Thurs., Jan. 17, when a crane lifted sections of a 40-foot infrastructure support I-beam onto the roof. Technicians from AeroVironment are expected to arrive during the following week to install the turbines.

The county hopes the turbines will shave costs from its $11,000-$12,000 per month electric bill. If it doesn’t produce results in the first year, the county has the option to move it to another county building, such as in Pike Lake or Hibbing, where it may be more productive, said St. Louis County property management director Tony Mancuso.

AieroVironment also installed turbines on the roof of a Kettle Foods plant in Beloit.

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EcoEnergy asks county to reject wind restrictions

Posted on January 10, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In a letter to the Calumet County Board of Supervisors, Curt Bjurlin, EcoEnergy Project Developer for Wisconsin, wrote:

. . . The truth is that EcoEnergy is a dedicated company, composed of employees who are committed to making a positive change for the environment. Those who have worked directly with us know that we are a company that takes our commitments seriously. Organizations like Clean Wisconsin recognize this dedication, but they act on behalf of renewable energy development for their own reasons. And these reasons are that we simply must develop renewable energy to solve the greatest environmental problem of our time – global climate change. Of the renewable energy sources available in Wisconsin, wind energy is the only source that can provide utility scale power that will make a real change in our impact on the environment. . . .

It is my belief that the ad hoc committee did not look at the tremendous benefits that wind energy would bring to Calumet County when it drafted these recommendations. That is the only explanation I can think of that would account for why recommendations would be brought forward that would make wind energy development effectively impossible in the county.

As a citizen, and yes, as an employee of EcoEnergy, I feel it is my responsibility to do everything in my power to help solve the present energy crisis. It is for this reason that I urge you to reject these ad hoc recommendations that will prevent renewable energy in your county. I hope that you will provide leadership on this vital issue and tell the people of Calumet County that you stand for a cleaner environment, that you have heard the environmental groups, that you have listened to your constituents, and that it is time to make a positive difference. . . .

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Seasons greeetings!

Posted on December 24, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |


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Breaking the addiction

Posted on December 10, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Congress is close to making history with an energy bill that would, among other things, increase fuel economy standards for the first time in more than 30 years and set the first national requirement for renewable energy standards. The House is ready to make that history, having approved the legislation on Thursday. But the Senate didn’t seem as interested in history Friday, voting to continue talking about the bill rather than actually approving it.

In the interests of a healthy economy, a healthy environment and national security, that needs to change, and senators, including Wisconsin’s own Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, would be doing their nation a real service by approving this legislation before they take their winter recess.

The bill approved by the House this week makes significant progress. Among other steps, it:

• Raises the average fleetwide standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40% increase over the current average.

• Requires utilities to produce 15% of electricity from renewable energy sources – such as solar, wind and biomass – by 2020.

• Calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be brought to market by 2020, five times the current standard; 16 billion gallons of that would come from biofuels made from plant material such as grass and wood chips, thus relieving pressure on corn ethanol.

• Sets efficiency standards for products such as light bulbs, dishwashers and clothes washers.

• Repeals billions in tax subsidies for oil companies and includes tax incentives for energy-efficient commercial buildings, heating and cooling equipment and super-efficient appliances.

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Levelizing the Playing Field for Renewables

Posted on November 28, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The U.S. economy is structured to be powered by cheap and abundant sources of fossil fuel. Given what we know about climate change and Peak Oil, we have no choice but to begin weaning ourselves off these finite resources, no matter how convenient it may be. Most of us know that the longer we put off the transition to renewable energy, the more untenable our dependency to fossil fuels become. But there is no pre-determined path that will ensure a trauma-free evolution toward a leaner, slower, lower-carbon society. As we undergo this transition, we can expect entrenched energy interests to fight us every step of the way, and their allies in government to resist adopting policies necessary to accomplish this task.

A presentation by Michael Vickerman, given November 28, 2007, at the UW-Stevens Point, examines several policy approaches we can pursue to elevate renewable energy from a bit player to the default option.

View the presentation as a PDF or PowerPoint.

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Governors issue renewable energy policy options

Posted on November 19, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The platform adopted by Midwestern governors at the Midwestern Energy Security and Climate Stewardhsip Summit includes the following policy options for renewable electricity. The fifth item on siting policies would be particularly vital to elimination of local roadblocks to wind development in Wisconsin.

1. Implement appropriate policies for development of renewable electricity generation. Enact, where appropriate, or enhance existing state renewable energy standards or objectives in the region to stimulate the development of new renewable electricity generation. . .

2. Expand collaborative regional transmission planning and siting to enable future development of renewable electricity generation.

3. Incorporate transmission development requirements into existing state renewable energy objectives and standards. . . .

4. Pursue a multi-state transmission initiative to facilitate construction and delivery to market of a large amount of new renewable electricity generation, together with power from other lower-carbon generation facilities. . . .


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Governors agree to combat climate change

Posted on November 16, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From an article Megan Orear by in The Daily Cardinal:

Leaders from nine Midwestern states and the province of Manitoba met in Milwaukee Thursday to sign the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, a plan to increase renewable energy and help curb global climate change.

Governors from the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Michigan, and the premier of Manitoba signed as full participants in the accord.

South Dakota, Indiana and Ohio have signed with an “observer status,” according to Keith Reopelle, program director of the environmental advocacy organization Clean Wisconsin.

Participating states will set targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions within the next year, and will enact the new policies in full within the next 30 months, according to a statement from Gov. Jim Doyle’s office.

Some of the policies include a regional trading system of carbon emissions and incentives to businesses that reduce emissions.

The agreement also attempts to save energy by promoting the use of renewable fuel, according to the release.

Michael Vickerman, executive director of the environmental non-profit organization RENEW Wisconsin, said the energy-saving tactics might only improve matters marginally. He said residents need to cut energy consumption by reducing wasteful habits.

“We can make progress on the technology side, but we have to change our behaviors,” Vickerman said.

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Energy subsidy comparison: renewables get little

Posted on November 12, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the blog of Wind Energy Works:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report comparing electricity subsidies by fuel type in response to a request from Senators Alexander and Carper. The report looks at both R&D and tax expenditures for fossil fuel, nuclear and renewable energy from FY 2002 through FY 2007. While this report does not include the subsidies received by conventional generation over the past 50 to 80 years or subsidies outside of R&D or tax measures, such as limited liability insurance and loan guarantees, it does present a clear picture that renewable energy continues to receive only a fraction of subsidies from the Federal government.

The Results?

Total R&D Expenditures from FY 2002 to FY 2007: $11.5 billion with nuclear receiving $6.2 billion, fossil fuel receiving $3.1 billion and renewable energy receiving $1.4 billion.

Total Tax Expenditures from FY 2002 to FY 2007: $18.2 billion with fossil fuel receiving $13.7 billion and renewable energy receiving $2.8 billion.

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Leopold gains LEED distinction

Posted on October 24, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the Web site of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center:

The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center has received Platinum LEED ® Certification, the highest possible recognition for green buildings in the United States. Following a rigorous assessment, LEED awarded the Legacy Center 61 points, more than any other building yet rated in the world. The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center is the first “net zero energy” building in Wisconsin and the first carbon neutral building certified by LEED.

The Center includes several renewable energy installations, including “a 39.6 kilowatt (kW) solar electric (photovoltaic) system on its roof, the second largest in Wisconsin.”

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